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Australian Scholar In Iran Prison Taken To Clinic After 48 Hours On Hunger Strike

Kylie Moore-Gilbert Middle East expert at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Asia Institute.

Australian scholar Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert who had been on hunger strike at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison since December 24 announced two days later she would resume her hunger strike if not taken out of solitary confinement by New Year's Eve.

The Australian scholar's message was relayed by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, a dual British-Iranian citizen also in prison in Iran, in a telephone call with her husband Richard Ratcliff.

In tweets posted on December 26 on Free Nazanin, a Twitter account dedicated to news about his imprisoned wife, Richard Ratcliff said she had briefly talked to Kylie at the prion clinic before the guards pulled them apart.

Kylie who was being checked after 48 hours of being on hunger strike had told Nazanin that she would go on hunger strike again if not transferred out of the solitary by New Year's Eve.

According to Nazanin a number of women in the ward joined the hunger strike in solidarity with Kylie on Christmas Eve.

Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert was arrested in October 2018 after checking in to her flight back to Australia. She was charged with spying and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Last week Australia' Herald Sun confirmed that Iranian authorities have rejected Moore-Gilbert's appeal against her sentence.

On December 26 the Center for Human Rights in Iran published a letter from Kylie to Australian PM Scott Morrison written in June with a postscript added in December. The letter has been smuggled out of the prison.

In her letter Kylie says over the past 9 months she has been completely banned from any contact with her family, with the exception of a 3-minute phone call to his father which was only granted after she took "desperate measures" which put her own life at risk.

"I have undertaken 5 hunger strikes as my only means to raise my voice, but to no avail. As predicted, I have now received a conviction of 10 years in prison, and my appeal court has failed," she wrote.

Dr. Moore-Gilbert, a scholar of the Middle East and a lecturer at Melbourne University, was in Iran to take part in a university program on Islam for foreign academics. At the time she was examining Iran’s relationship with Bahrain’s Shia after the Arab uprisings under a grant from University of Melbourne.

During her stay in Iran, she also conducted some interviews. In her letter she says one of her academic colleagues on this program who she also interviewed flagged her as "suspicious" to the Revolutionary Guards.

"As a result, I have been thrown into the high-security unit of the Revolutionary Guards’ private prison within Evin and have been subjected to grievous violations of my legal and human rights, including psychological torture and spending prolonged periods of time in solitary confinement," she wrote in the letter addressed to the Australian prime minister.

The Australian academic has also said that the Revolutionary Guards attempted to use her "as a hostage in a diabolical plot" to lure her husband, an Australian permanent resident, into going to Iran. Her husband's identity has not been revealed.

Moore-Gilbert's family kept silent about her detention in Iran for more than a year hoping her release could be secured through diplomatic channels. Her name was announced publicly in September a few days before the Iranian Judiciary officially announced that she had been charged and indicted with "spying" on September 17.

Australian universities acting on advice from the government have warned academics not to travel to Iran after three Australians were detained by the Islamic Republic in recent months.

In October the Australian government released an Iranian suspected of breaking sanctions in technology transfers to Iran in order to get two Australian travelers freed from Iran. Blogger Jolie King and her boyfriend Mark Firkin were released after ten weeks of detention.